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Students gain awareness of local career opportunities

March 19, 2018

The Hastings Police Department hoped to plant a seed with local teens Thursday who attended the third annual Career Day at Hastings High School’s south gymnasium.

The police department was among first-time businesses and organizations to participate in the event Thursday.

“We saw the value of coming out and being present with middle school kids, high school kids,” said Capt. Brian Hessler, who was standing at the HPD booth with administrative sergeant Michael Doremus. “We’re trying to make sure we have a presence at community events. The schools have been good to us. We enjoy the partnership we’ve developed with the school as well as the other business owners in the community.”

In all, more than 30 businesses and organizations were in attendance at the event that was organized by the Hastings Economic Development Corp.

“We’ve seen a lot of inflow of students, a lot of traffic from students over the last hour,” HEDC Interim Director Maggie Vaughan said halfway through the event. “They’re talking to the employers and organizations, which is great.”

Central Community College-Hastings had the greatest Career Day representation with about a dozen tables.

In addition to the culinary arts and skilled and technical sciences programs, the college also provided booths for its business programs this year.

Mark Funkey, CCC associate dean of instruction over the skilled and technical sciences, said it is important for students to learn as much as possible about what is available when it comes to manufacturing jobs and education.

“We have what is affectionately known as the skills gap in the United States,” Funkey said. “We have a lot of people with a lot of education but not skills to be able to perform the jobs, and we have a lot of jobs that are open that require skills. So, the more education we can do for kids, so they understand all the career options that are out there — because there’s certainly nothing wrong with four-year schools, and we need those people in the world — but we also have this other need with these jobs, so we want to make students aware of all the possibilities, so they can make educated choices about what they want to do with their future.”

Some students were getting information about CCC programs they didn’t previously know anything about. Others were getting to talk to industry partners and learn about potential job opportunities.

Hessler said students who visited the police department’s booth were respectful and asked a lot of engaging questions.

While the police department isn’t hiring any high school students, having officers available to answer questions about a career in law enforcement was helpful for the department and the students.

“Several kids have come up to us and have said, ‘I’d like to be a police officer,’ ” Hessler said. “Some of them have said, ‘I’m thinking about going into the military after high school and being a police officer after that.’ ”

HHS junior Izaiah Moran was among high school students who stopped by the police department’s booth.

“I’m going to talk to the police right now, because being a cop seems pretty cool,” he said.

He was visiting booths during Career Day with fellow juniors Shane Mullins and Jacob Downing. They learned what qualifications and skills are needed for various jobs.

Moran, Mullins and Downing were among about 180 HHS students to participate in the Career Day.

About 50 Hastings Middle School students also attended.

Matt Hurt, HHS advanced manufacturing and welding instructor, said with this being the third year for the Career Day, many of the students already have made connections with local employers and educators.

“They’re just rekindling those relationships,” he said. “Plus, the students who are new are starting new ones, and they’re starting to see the path through CCC or Hastings College to one of these industries.”